A film called “Conservation’s Dirty Secrets” spotlights the alleged role of the African Wildlife Foundation in the brutal evictions of Samburu pastoralists in Kenya over the last three years. British film maker Oliver Steeds interviewed evicted Samburu elders and filmed their burning dwellings as Kenyan police attempted to arrest his Samburu guides. A Kenyan court is currently hearing the Samburu eviction case (see updates posted on this website).
In the documentary, Steeds travels from Kenya to Honduras, Fiji, and the Caribbean, exposing major environmental organizations for their abuse of human rights, their dependence on funding from environmentally destructive corporations, and their “Disneyfication” of conservation. The World Wildlife Fund comes under criticism for “greenwashing” Fiji bottled water and taking large donations from its owner, who also sits on the organization’s board. Conservation International is tied to a Honduran tycoon who is accused of murdering peasants who got in the way of his expanding oil palm empire. Steeds questions whether the large conservation organizations are really grappling with the enormous challenge of protecting biological diversity on both land and sea, or are they “dumbing down” the issues with emotional appeals that focus on warm, fuzzy, charismatic species? The answer matters in a world where extinction may claim as many as one-third of existing species before the end of this century.
Steeds gives one example of a conservation program worthy of support: a Maasai community in Kenya that manages its own conservation area and offers eco-tourists an experience of wildlife and Indigenous self-determination together.
“Conservation’s Dirty Secrets” was broadcast June 20 on the UK’s Channel 4 “Dispatches” program. It can be downloaded online here:
See the following reactions to the program:
Since 1972 Cultural Survival has been advocating for Indigenous Peoples' rights and supporting Indigenous communities’ self-determination, cultures and political resilience.
To read about Cultural Survival’s work around the world, click here. To read more articles on the subject use our Search function and explore 40 years of information on Indigenous issues.
For ways to take action to help Indigenous communities, click here.
We take on governments and multinational corporations—and they always have more resources than we do—but with the help of people like you, we do win. Your contribution is crucial to that effort. Click here to do your part.
12 Month Calendar featuring Cultural Survival's work advancing Indigenous Peoples' rights around the world
*Free shipping in the United States. $5 for international.